I have a human cleric (war domain) with the War Caster feat. She holds a warhammer and a shield. Am I able to cast spells that require a material component and still hold my hammer and shield?

If not, then what are my options for casting a spell that requires material components? Do I drop the shield or warhammer? Does it cost a free action, move action, etc.?


3 Answers 3


Yes, you can cast spells with a Material (M) component without issue.

Your Holy Symbol takes care of it.

This is one of the more difficult things to look up in the current 5e rules. It starts on page 58, under Cleric spellcasting:

You can use a holy symbol (found in chapter 5) as a spellcasting focus for your cleric spells.

In the equipment section, page 151:

... A cleric or paladin can use a holy symbol as a spellcasting focus, as described in chapter 10. To use the symbol in this way, the caster must hold it in hand, wear it visibly, or bear it on a shield.

Finally, page 203, under Material (M):

A character can use a component pouch or a spellcasting focus (found in chapter 5) in place of the components specified for a spell.

Put it all together: You can use a visibly worn holy symbol (no hands required) in place of the material components for a spell.

Somatic Components

What's more likely to trip clerics up are somatic components, which ALSO require a free hand but aren't covered by the holy symbol.

Fortunately, the rules are pretty lax on this point. Page 203 outlines interacting with objects:

You can also interact with one object or feature of the environment for free, during either your move or your action. For example, you could open a door during your move as you stride toward a foe, or you could draw your weapon as part of the same action you use to attack.

(See this answer for more info)

A very strict reading of this would allow the cleric to sheath his weapon, cast his spell, and then draw his weapon again the next turn (giving up opportunity attacks for a turn).

OR, you can drop your weapon (free), cast your spell, and then use your free interaction to pick it up again.

OR, pick up the War Caster feat (as you have).

OR, just ask your DM to go easy on you...


From page 203 of the 5e PHB

Casting some spells requires particular objects, specified in parentheses in the component entry. A character can use a component pouch or a spellcasting focus (found in chapter 5) in place of the components specified for a spell.

In regards to the Divine Focus the 5e designers stated here

A divine focus can be emblazoned on a cleric’s shield, enabling the cleric to wield a weapon in the other hand and still cast spells. A wizard can hold an arcane focus in one hand and a weapon in another and still cast spells. A druid must hold mistletoe as an arcane focus, so druids must either stash their shield or their weapon to cast.

So emblazon your cleric's holy symbol on his shield. Combined with War Caster you can cast spells without having to put away your weapon.

For a Druid who must hold their mistletoe, or for a cleric that doesn't have emblazoned divine focus. Then you can do an Object Interaction as part of your movement.

From page 190

Here are a few examples of the sorts of thing you can do in tandem with your movement and action:

• draw or sheathe a sword

The main difference is that after casting the spell. The character will not have a weapon in hand. He can then do a Interaction on his next turn before he attacks to use his weapon.

The main practical impact that in the turns after the cleric casts the spell he will unable to use his weapon in a reaction or benefit from any effects he would get by holding the weapon.


At the end of the Material (M) section (pg 203), it mentions that a spellcaster needs a free hand to access the components, but it can be the same hand that he or she uses to perform somatic components. If you are using the spellcasting focus item for materials, like a wand or a holy symbol on shield, then you can use that hand for the free hand required for somatic gestures, so long as it's not a priced material item. So basically a wizard/cleric could use a wand in one hand as an arcane focus (which is the spellcasting focus for wizard spells), a holy symbol emblazoned shield as his spellcasting focus for cleric spells, and be able to cast any spell without need of spell components (unless priced) and without the need to put away either item.


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